We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.
Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich
When Julien Shapiro created the opening menu for Eat the Rich, he consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to get some idea of which fish he should use and which to avoid.
The NOAA scientists could not tell him what to do, of course, but they could provide him with data and help him interpret it.
“If you look at the fishing reports, it says the numbers are such, and then you make a conclusion based on what you think is good,” Shapiro told me. “They will say whether it is overfished or underfished or if there is no data.”
To round out his view of the fish available in the mid-Atlantic, Shapiro makes an effort to visit each mid-Atlantic state and check with its Department of Natural Resources to discover local numbers on fish and confirm what is available.
These habits serve Shapiro and Eat the Rich well, as the chef and owners focus on local, sustainable seafood, derived heavily from the Chesapeake Bay.
“We are trying to focus exclusively on Chesapeake seafood. That’s our calling card,” Shapiro said.
Cocktail mogul Derek Brown and oysterman Travis Coxton opened Eat the Rich last year, naming it after a Motorhead song. Coxton is also behind Rappahannock River Oysters, which has expanded locally into Union Market in 2012. Eat the Rich serves those same oysters. Coxton is concerned about being a good steward of the local oyster population, Shapiro said, and the chef applies the same outlook to the rest of the seafood served at Eat the Rich.
As a native New Englander there’s no time of year that I enjoy more than autumn and, hands down, the best part of the season is Halloween. No question about it. When you’re young, you get to dress up like a monster and get free candy for it. How amazing is that? Then, when you’re an adult, you get to use it as an excuse to go out drinking at inappropriate times–got work on Friday morning? Who cares!–and dress as ridiculously as you can financially and imaginatively afford. That being said, I’ve always had a fascination with the Day of the Dead too. Maybe it’s because my mother was a Spanish teacher for over twenty-five years, and each year she would set up her little sugar skulls and Catrinas around Halloween. I’ve always been intrigued by the holiday and wished that more people celebrated it. So this week we’re doing a tribute to seasonal cocktails and Dia de Muertos. And to me that means we’re doing mezcal (whoops!).
If you’ve never had it, mezcal is a little spirit that comes from the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Similar to tequila, it’s distilled from agave (albeit a different species, but that’s a bit too wonky for now), the primary difference is that the hearts of the agave plants are roasted for three days in ovens dug into the ground, which imparts this beautiful, earthy, smoky flavor. Continue reading